The Lewis and Clark Library details their road to reopening

Lewis and Clark Library
Posted at 5:12 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-21 20:42:37-05

HELENA — The Lewis and Clark Library will resume holds pick-up on Friday Jan. 22 after an employee tested positive for COVID-19 the week prior.

The library recently released their plan for a phased reopening. The five phase approach has individual milestones for the library and the community that will determine the services the library can offer.

“We know that our patrons are anxious to get back to the library, and we are anxious to welcome them back for services, but we have to do so in a manner that is safe for our patrons, staff, and community,” explained Lewis & Clark Library Director John Finn.

Lewis and Clark Library

The Lewis and Clark Library developed the plan around their observations of other libraries across the nation and their responses to the pandemic. The intent is it will allow them to easily slide between phases are certain benchmarks are reached.

Phase I is if there is a positive COVID-19 test within library staff. During the phase only digital services are available. When the library moves to Phase II they can resume non contact holds pick-up and limited Bookmobile stops.

Phase III will see the return of in-person browsing at library locations, excluding Bookmobile, and limited hours and number of people in buildings at one time, computer usage, and seating. The library is only able to move to phase three once there are less than 25 new COVID cases reported in the county a day for two full weeks.

Once the community is under 10 new COVID-19 cases a day for two consecutive weeks the library will transition into Phase IV. More individuals will be allowed for browsing and some limited programming will return.

Lewis and Clark Library

Phase V will signal all library services returning to normal. There will need to be zero new COVID cases for a two week period to reach the phase.

The library had been in Phase II of their reopening plan, but had to revert to Phase I last week with the positive staff member test. On Friday they will return to Phase II.

Patrons are currently required to wear a CDC approved face mask when visiting any branch of the Lewis and Clark Library during all Phases, until the CDC revokes the recommendation.

Some of the new COVID policies and practices will likely continue to be implemented even after the library has completely reopened due to the benefits they’ve shown for their patrons.

Public Information Officer Patricia Spencer says the digital programs and services have been a big success.

Lewis and Clark Library

“The Big Read that we’re doing currently is a great example of that for the library. It’s our 14th Big Read grant and we’re doing it 100 percent online, which is very different than anything we’ve done before. But it’s also opened up the opportunity to those who wouldn’t have been able to attend even before COVID; be that for medical reason or transportation,” said Spencer.

Copies of this year’s Big Read novel “Into the Beautiful North” by Luis Alberto Urrea are still available at the main branch of the Lewis and Clark Library. More digital events planned next week, including a conversation with the author.